THE Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) has rejected the council’s 2021 budget proposal, arguing that the budget formulation process was flawed.Bulawayo City Council (BCC) is proposing a $17 billion budget for 2021 up from the $2,8 billion for 2020.
The local authority is concurrently pushing for a $2,85 billion supplementary budget citing an unfavourable inflationary environment.
Council held the budget consultations via the WhatsApp platform citing COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings but the process was dismissed by various stakeholders as discriminatory.
The BPRA in a letter dated November 4 rejecting the 2021 budget proposal also raised concern with the WhatsApp platform noting that it did not give enough room for engagement.
“We are of the view that the consultations were one-way as residents never had meaningful contributions. The consultations did not afford residents meaningful room to engage,” BPRA co-ordinator Emmanuel Ndlovu wrote to the council.
“Some BCC staff members including some councillors who were responsible for communicating with the residents in each respective ward group were failing to answer residents’ questions with some councillors becoming emotional and personalising the process to a point of exiting WhatsApp budget consultations groups.”
He said the analysis of the proposed budget also showed that it did not meet the needs of residents, particularly with regards to issues of service delivery such as water, sanitation, sewerage reticulation and infrastructure.
“Following the documents (abridged budget) we received from council, we have analysed the draft budget further and attached our analysis which further lends credence to the fact that both the process and content of the budget are flawed,” Ndlovu said.
“Given the foregoing, BPRA is of the view that the budget should not be acceded and out rightly rejects the budget.
“While we acknowledge BCC for availing part of the information that we requested, we are disappointed that to date we still have not received the full unabridged draft 2021 budget.”